“ Brand: Pets at Home / Type: Nylon harness to secure dog in car / Animals Equipment Type: Dog Collars, Leads & ID „
I bought two of these harnesses in order to collect my dog from the rescue centre and drive them home. I originally intended to replace them with more expensive ones once I had the dogs and could work out sizes and so on. Over a year later I've actually never felt any need to replace them, I haven't actually got round to it, they aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but they're perfectly functional and the dogs get on with them so I've just stuck with the status quo.
The basic premise is that you put this harness on your dog, and then attach the harness to seatbelt in the backseat of your car so that the dog doesn't cause a hazard by wandering the inside of your car while you're driving. They also offer some protection in case of minor accidents, or having to do emergency stops, swerves etc. I don't think they'd be a great deal of use in a major accident in terms of stopping the dog being injured, but they do stop them becoming missiles or being thrown through windows. Its horrible to think of your pets being hurt in a car crash but sadly the same amount of research doesn't go into protecting dogs as humans.
The harnesses are surprisingly easy to use, when you first take them out of the box they look like a horrifying mass of straps and buckles but once you get the hang of it its perfectly simple. You put the harness over the dog's head and then fasten a buckle behind one of their front legs and hey presto, harness is on! Its easy to tell when you've got it right or wrong as two of the straps have reflective plastic patches on, and its obvious when they're in the wrong place. All the straps are adjustable so you can make sure you have a nice snug fit. Its essential to do this as if you leave them too much wriggle room they will indeed wriggle out of the harness and suddenly appear on the front passenger seat. Luckily I was still stationary when that happened!
The harness is fastened to the back seat of the car by a separate piece, a loop of strapping that you pull the seatbelt through and that then clips onto a metal loop on the back of the harness as a lead would. Click the seatbelt in and you're dog is secure. The idea is that the mechanism of the seatbelt that makes it 'snap' to hold back a person in an accident will also work to secure a dog. The dogs don't have a great deal of freedom in the back of the car with this harness on but that's for the best really. They can sit, stand, lie down and look out of the window but they can't cause any problems for me driving and they can't jump onto the parcel shelf, so they're safe but not too constricted.
One problem I found with these harnesses is that the small size is still too big for very very tiny dogs. It just about fits my toy poodle but the straps are at their tightest. It wouldn't work for say a chihuahua or a small yorkie or dachshund. The harnesses seem comfortable, the dogs come running to have them put on and will happily pad about and play while wearing them, the straps don't seem to rub or annoy them at all.
You can also use this harness as an ordinary walking harness, one bonus for this is the reflective strips along the shoulders which are handy for staying visible while walking during the dark miserable months of winter, especially if you walk your dogs along roads. I don't use the harnesses for walking, just because I'm a bit paranoid that I'll have another escape attempt but in an unsafe situation, lots of people walk their dogs on harnesses but a collar feels more secure to me.
The harnesses aren't anything fancy, they aren't as attractive as lots of the ones you'll see hanging up on display in Pets at Home but they're perfectly functional, they seem comfortable and they are hopefully keeping my dogs safe in the car. They aren't very heavy duty so I would probably only recommend them for small to medium sized pooches, a Great Dane could probably eat one for breakfast!